Classic Delahaye 135 splendour

April 11, 2007


When reminiscing about the great French marques of yesteryear, the names Bugatti, Delage and Lorraine spring to mind more readily than Delahaye. Yet the Delahaye chapter of automobile history is associated with the most beautiful automobiles ever. With the advent of the Delahaye 135 range, Delahaye established itself as the darling of cars for the rich and famous, the preoccupation of movie stars and playboys, whose tastes were sated by only the finest in automobiles


Ettore Bugatti was reputed to have described the Delahayes of the early 20th century as cumbersome and heavy, redolent of the fire department trucks which the company had made for the Paris Fire Department. This changed when the company moved into the sports car arena.

Delahayes were one of the few exquisite classic cars of the golden age of automobiles built by the Europe’s finest coachworkers, the Grand Carrossiers of France.

Coachbuilders of the likes of Franay, Letourner, Marchard, Chapron, and Guillore were tasked with outfitting the 135’s, influenced possibly by Delage, a company which Delahaye had merged with in 1935. The 135 won numerous awards for styling and design, was available in many body styles, and was powered by a 3.6 litre straight 6 engine without any supercharger, limiting it’s speed to under 100mph.


Clearly its technology never equalled the Bugatti or the Alfa Romeo, and it’s engine power was comparatively modest. What made it such a classic car was the artistic design elegance and styling imparted to it’s body by the coachbuilders. An early example of art deco design theme, it privileged shape and grace over raw power.

A 1935 Delahaye is for sale at Classic Cars For Sale.


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